Wednesday, May 29, 2002
(Updated Sunday, June 2, 2002)
Assembled from various news reports.
Three climbers are dead on Mount Rainier after bad weather overcame
them near Liberty Cap.
According to a National Park Service spokesperson, a climbing party
consisting of two men and two women were attempting to summit the
14,410-foot mountain via the challenging Liberty Ridge route when
they were enveloped in a strong storm. The party's tents were
destroyed by the high winds, so they dug a snow cave near the
13,900-foot mark on the mountain's North side.
As two of the climbers entered the cave, one of the male climbers
slipped on the ice and fell to his death. The fourth person
ran to tell the two climbers in the cave, but inadvertently walked
over the cave's roof and collapsed the structure. Much of
their equipment and clothing were subsequently trapped inside the
destroyed cave. Some reports state that one climber did not
have a jacket and another did not have the shells to their climbing
boots, as the gear was buried in the snow.
Early Wednesday morning, after spending the night with the two
women, the surviving man was able to descend to a pass at 7,800
feet. At 11:15 am, he contacted authorities using a cell
phone borrowed from a skier.
Nearly a dozen Mount Rainier National Park Climbing Rangers and two
helicopter crews searched the mountain for hours on Wednesday
afternoon. They recovered the deceased man's body and found
one of the women dead.
The other woman was spotted lying motionless in a crevasse just before
the suspension of Wednesday's search due to bad weather. Crews
were able to retrieve her body on Thursday. Evidently, she also
fell at some point during the ordeal.
At least two of the three climbers killed were students at Oregon State
University in Corvallis, Oregon. The lone survivor is also a
student at OSU.
Located 103 miles Northeast of Portland, Mount Rainier is the tallest
Cascade Range mountain and is under the jurisdiction of the National
Park Service. The Washington peak is well known for its level
of difficulty and unpredictable weather patterns.